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11 Awesome, Little Known iPhone Features

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Last Updated: July 9, 2014

With a device as powerful as the iPhone, and an operating system as complex as iOS, there are dozens, maybe even hundreds of features that most people never know about. Whether you're curious about those features, or think you're an iPhone expert, this article can help you learn new things about your iPhone. From adding emoji to your keyboard to blocking certain alerts and calls to making Siri a man, these cool hidden features can turn you into a power user and help you get exactly what you want from your iPhone.

1. Built-In Emoji

Add emoji to iPhone

Emoji are little icons—smiley-faces, people, animals, icons—that you can use to add some fun or express emotions in text messages and other documents. There are a ton of apps in the App Store that add emoji to your iPhone, but you don't need them. That's because there are hundreds of emoji built into iOS, if you know where to look for them. 

2. Get Alerts From a Flashing Light

LED alerts for iPhone

On Android and Blackberry smartphones, a light blinks to notify the user when there's something—a text message, a voicemail—on their phone that they should check out. Users of those devices often claim that feature as a reason their platforms are better than the iPhone. But changing just one setting lets the iPhone's camera flash blink a light for alerts, too.

3. Hidden Accents

iPhone accents

If you're writing in a foreign language, or just using a word or two from a foreign language, some letters may be accented with symbols not native to English. You won't see those accents on the onscreen keyboard, but you can add them to your writing by holding down a handful of keys—you just need to know the right ones. 

4. How to Block Calls and Text on iPhone

block calls and texts on iPhone

Almost everyone has one or two people in their lives that they don't want to hear from. Whether it's an ex or an annoying telemarketer, you don't need to hear from them—by phone, text message, of FaceTime—ever again if you block them from contacting you.  

5. Make Siri a Man

Change Siri's gender

Siri, Apple's personal digital assistant built into the iOS, is famous for her wit and polite, even-tempered delivery. If you're running iOS 7 or higher, did you know Siri need not be a woman? If you'd prefer a man's voice, just tap the Settings app, tap General, tap Siri, tap Voice Gender, and then tap Male.  

6. Share Text Messages by Forwarding Them

Forward iPhone Text Message

Just received a text message that you absolutely have to share? You can forward it to other people, but in iOS 7 and up, finding the options to forward texts isn't entirely obvious. Check out the linked article for details on how to forward your text messages. 

7. Take Tons of Photos with Burst Mode

iPhone camera burst mode

The iPhone is the most popular camera in the world and takes terrific photos (especially on the iPhone 5S). Smartphones can be great to take photos of people standing still, food, and landscapes, but they haven't always been good for action shots. If you've got an iPhone 5S or newer, that's changed. Burst mode allows you to take up to 10 photos a second by holding down the photo button. With that many photos, you'll be able to capture all the action. 

8. How to Turn Off AMBER Alerts on iPhone

turn off AMBER alerts on iPhone

Starting in iOS 6, the iPhone automatically notifies you when AMBER or emergency alerts are issued for your area. You may prefer not to get these notifications. If so, a simple settings change does the trick. (That said, I'd recommend you keep them turned on. Wouldn't you want to know about an impending flood or tornado, for instance?)

9. Reduce Tracking by Avertisers

Limit iPhone Ad Tracking

Ever notice that sometimes banner ads will follow you around the Internet, showing up on site after site that you visit? That happens because the advertisers are using an ad network to target you in particular, based on your behavior and interests. This happens with in-app advertising, too, and when it comes to ads in apps, you can do something about it. To block advertisers from tracking you in apps, in iOS 6 and up, go to Settings -> Privacy -> Advertising -> slide Limit Ad Tracking to On/green. This won't block ads from showing up (you'll still see them where they would be normally), but the ads won't be customized to you based on your personal information.

10. Learn Your Frequent Locations

iPhone Frequent Locations

Your iPhone is really smart. So smart, in fact, that it can use GPS to keep track of the patterns of the places you go. If you go to a city every morning for work, for example, your phone will eventually learn that pattern and start being able to provide information like traffic and weather for your destination that can be a big help during your commute. This feature, called Frequent Locations, is turned on by default when you enable GPS features during iPhone set up. To edit its data or turn it off, go to Settings -> Privacy -> Location Services. Scroll to the bottom of that screen and tap System Services, then tap Frequent Locations.

11. Shake to Undo

Shake to Undo

Written something and realized you want to erase it? Don't bother holding down the delete key. Simply shake your iPhone and you can undo your typing! When you shake your phone and a pop up window will offer to Undo or Cancel. Tap Undo to remove whatever text you just typed. If you change your mind, you can restore the text by shaking again and tapping the Redo button. Shake to Undo works in many apps built into the iOS like Safari, Mail, Notes, and Messages and can even undone some things besides typing.

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